So I recently read Hilary Mantel's old LRB piece on holy and secular anexoria, which reminded me of how much I like her style and insights in her non-fiction pieces and made me regret giving up on Wolf Hall a few years ago. Is there something on Tudor history that would help me enjoy Wolf Hall more? [more inside]
What is this intriguing device I noticed at a friend's house? Friend has no idea. It's about 6 inches in length. It was patented by Holland Mfg of Willamantic, CT, and a Google search suggests it might have something to do with 19th century silk manufacturing. Ideas?
Can you give me examples of male visual artists who are and were known for their gratuitous sexual behavior? Sexuality doesn't matter, and neither does period or style. I'm very curious. Thank you.
This is a two-part question about commodity prices in California in the 1860s. Part 1: How is this newspaper report of "current" (1862) prices read? The @s throw me off. (My best guess is that those are price ranges.) Part two... [more inside]
not sure if this is the case in other areas, but where i live there are zillions of one-bedroom duplexes built in the 1920s. why the sudden duplex housing boom in the 20s? and why are they all single bedrooms - were they meant for singles or couples without kids? i've googled and googled and can't find the answer, so hopefully one of y'all knows!
I'm looking for a book or website I read a few years ago about sovereign default and how it's actually a GOOD thing. The author pointed out several examples in history where countries had defaulted on their debt and emerged more-or-less okay (if I recall correctly there were examples dating back to antiquity). Does anyone have any idea what this was?
Tell me the history books you've read that you could not put down. History of just about anything, but especially historically significant people, say, before WWI. [more inside]
Where can I learn more about Japan's heightened interest, starting in the late 70's, towards cultures they deemed to be exotic, especially in (but not limited to) music? [more inside]
A young woman (14 years old) of my acquaintance absolutely loves those "fun fact of the day" trivia phone apps. Now I'm looking for some books I could recommend to her chock full of fun facts, and explanations of the background of those facts, that would be age- and knowledge-level-appropriate. Ideas? [more inside]
I always thought I could learn whatever I needed to learn about computers, but as my life has gotten more complex, and computers keep changing, I find myself with over 12 years of email from school and three jobs, and more and different kinds of stuff coming all the time. I see four big things I'd like to do with my computing environment (home, work, phone, cloud) but I have no idea how to get started or what is the best way to do this. I need a computing mentor. [more inside]
This is a question about the return of hundreds of thousands of Portuguese colonists to Portugal after the African colonies became independent and the politics thereof. [more inside]
I just finished reading The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer again and it was just as incredible if not more so the second time around. I'm wondering if there are other nonfiction books of similar quality and comprehensiveness for other topics - primarily looking for a diabetes book but also interested in any other comparable books. [more inside]
Are there any good discussion boards or email lists for an amateur ancient history enthusiast? [more inside]
Embarrassingly simple question-- has there been recently published a book about the history of the British (cozy?) mystery? [more inside]
Before Thanksgiving, construction crews working on the Massachusetts State House discovered a time capsule placed there in 1795. It was opened last night at a press conference. Will the contents be on display? [more inside]
Our 12-year-old has expressed some interest in the history of socialism and communism. I would love to find him some resources that aren't quite as blatantly one-sided and dismissive or even flat-out wrong as I've been able to find so far (like a video titled: "Socialism: From Marx to Obama" for example, ugh). I'm a staunch European social-democrat myself, so I can tell him a little about what I know myself, but I'd love to supplement it with some good, easy reading, and maybe some video.
"Nice catch!" you'll think, realizing that I deserve kudos for noticing that this question is hard to find an answer to. But where does the phrase "nice catch" come from? Why is noticing and identifying a thing a "catch"? When was this first used and whence did it come?
The popular perception of Versailles and the 18th century French aristocracy holds that they showed a casual disregard for the the struggles of the poor. This surely has truth to it, but the famous "let them eat cake" anecdote quite likely never happened – so can you point me to any other evidence (letters, anecdotes, trial proceedings, etc) of how the French ruling class actually regarded the poor?
An episode of Sports Night refers to Napoleon's Battle Plan as being: "First we show up, then we see what happens." Does this have any grounding in reality, or is it just Sorkinism gone wild? [more inside]
I'm trying to find historians, writings, examples... whatever I can about 19th century American (especially mid-Atlantic) veggie and herb gardens and could use some help! I'm basically looking for resources on what someone might have had in their home garden. [more inside]
Which articles, written before and as "shock therapy" economic liberalization policies were being implemented in Russia, have best been borne out over time? [more inside]
I am appended to a cosmetics nerd, who is daily engrossed in the theory, history, and practice of makeup in Europe and the US. This is someone who has shelf space devoted to books on, like, the material culture of powder compacts between the great wars. [more inside]
I want to read very good history books. I know such threads exist. But I want recommendations from people who are very well read (decently well read, even) in the subject. If you have a particular interest, what is it, and what are some excellent books you've read and recommend? [more inside]
I know why our ears pop, but I'm wondering when humans reliably began experiencing this sensation caused by anything other than having a cold. Today, we are most likely to feel our ears popping in a airplane or driving a car in the mountains. But before planes and cars, and besides the head colds and infected sinuses that have always been with us, what caused our ears to pop first? [more inside]
Every year I load up my Mom's Kindle library for Christmas. This year I'm finding a lot of stuff on the non-fiction end but very little fiction that is up her alley. Her fave books: Neal Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle" and Gillian Bradshaw's "The Sand-Reckoner." Got a rec? Expanded explanation of her taste inside! [more inside]
I'm looking for books about the daily lives of ordinary, non-Jewish Germans in the run-up to WWII. Ideally about someone who wasn't that interested or involved in politics and didn't have any strong feelings about Jews, Roma or other Nazi targets. Specific questions inside. [more inside]
What are the best history (non-fiction) books concerned with the Oregon Territory, the Pacific Northwest, Washington State, the Puget Sound region, or Seattle?
Book recommendations, please! What's a good non-fiction book to sink one's teeth into about the technological developments leading to the Industrial Revolution?
I'd like to read a book with more details on this. This is a cool page. "When the Northwestern Elevated Railroad built its Ravenswood branch in 1906, [lots of cool information with pictures]. Are there any books like that? I want to read all about the development of the area, illustrated with historical photos. What kind of cars did they use? Did they have to build through neighborhoods? how did that work? etc etc etc!
I'm looking for media (books mostly) related to technical histories of engineering projects. [more inside]
Please recommend me works based on the lives and works of stage magicians. I want to learn about how they started their careers and how they changed as it went on. [more inside]
Fort Worden is apparently the only US Army base to ever be named after a Navy officer, one John Lorimer Worden, commander of the Monitor in the US Civil War. The reasons why are possibly lost to history. Any military history buffs out there who might possibly know why? [more inside]
My wife and I were talking the other night, and we were wondering about how human beings figured out what food is edible and what isn't - what possessed folks to figure out if they ate this part of the fish, but not that part, then they wouldn't die, or if they could just get past the prickly parts of this plant, the innards were good? [more inside]
I'd like to read some great non-fiction books about political revolutions, both successful and failed. I'm particularly interested in the past couple hundred years of history, and in revolutions involving (former?) colonies. [more inside]
What are some magazines or online publications that publish popular -- but not dumbed-down or gimmicky -- history writing? Difficulty level: must pay writers. [more inside]
I'm looking to read about the interesting, fascinating, and crazy lives people have lived. Any recommendations for biographies of people that have led fascinating lives?
I'm looking for a really great history of science or weird science podcast(s)! [more inside]
Let's say I wanted to see the history of the angel Uriel. Or Zoroaster. Or Astaroth. Or one of the many demon-like figures in Japanese folklore. Is there such a comprehensive work of mythological beings? Something with facts like the first historical mention of the figure, various physical descriptions throughout time with context, their backstory(ies), etc? [more inside]
I'm looking for television shows that have plots that span long periods of time. Boardwalk Empire comes to mind. So does The Borgias. [more inside]
Help me out, Hivemind. I'm looking for respectable, scholarly books, friendly to the layman, on the early beginnings of Christianity. More specifically, I'm interested in its first few centuries. I'm also hoping to attain a better understanding of Gnosticism and its place in Christianity's history. I am NOT looking for New Age-y neognostic inculcations.
Are there any medieval fantasy games or fiction where the illiteracy of the characters are a major plot point, or at least discussed in depth? Since most people couldn't read or do any sort of advanced math before the modern era, you would think it would come up more often, but it seems like it's barely mentioned or considered in most stories that I can recall.
Can you recommend a historical book to give me some background and context before I visit India? I'd like to learn more about the region's history to understand what I'm seeing. [more inside]
I was playing around with Google's Ngram viewer and noticed this interesting graph. Any idea what drove the two peaks around 1885 and 1919?
I'm looking for online resources describing daily life and struggles in rural New England in the 1800s, ideally around the mid-century period and in Vermont/New Hampshire. Narratives favored over statistics but non-fiction favored over fiction.
So I met a guy who used to work on a few of the celeb shows of the 1970's - the Bert Convy, Jamie Farr, Young Betty White years. He was telling some stories that were equal parts shocking and hilarious. I was wondering: IS there some sort of oral history of the shows and all their craziness at the time BESIDES Confessions of Dangerous Mind? I'd love to read about it.
I'm a huge fan of Howard Zinn's book "A People's history of the United States" and I'm looking for close equivalents for Britain, Australia and Canada.
I want to know how long people usually lived in different historical periods, but all the charts I can find are heavily skewed by infant mortality rates. (See e.g.). Can anyone point me toward a similar break-down that removes infant mortality from the calculations?
My question is two-fold, really. First, please recommend to me all of your favorite titles on the history of science, math, technology, and medicine. Secondly, how do you go about searching for good books in these topics? My favorite booksellers don't have a "history of science" search tag, unfortunately. Some of my past favorites and extended explanation below the fold. [more inside]
Did English peasants in the Late Middle Ages--say, 14th c.--take Communion? If so, how often? How about the other sacraments?
Before Ellis Island there was Castle Garden. Before Castle Garden ...? [more inside]